The Colossus

Notes on our twelfth prime minister

Louis St‑Laurent is almost forgotten by Canadians, and it is unlikely there will ever be a new biography: unfortunately (and inexplicably), his papers at Library and Archives Canada are scanty, devoid of interest. There is hardly anyone left to interview — the sole exception being Paul Hellyer, who entered the twelfth prime minister’s cabinet as associate minister of national defence two months before John Diefenbaker won power in 1957. There are a couple of good books on him: a biography by Dale Thomson, who worked in his office, and another by J. W. Pickersgill, his closest aide and former clerk of the Privy Council. But both men were Liberals, and neither had anything bad to say about a leader they respected greatly.

Perhaps there are few negative things anyone can say about a man whose primary characteristics were intelligence and integrity. St‑Laurent was born in Compton, Quebec, in February 1882. His...